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Release of God’s Assassin Delayed May 3, 2017

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Amazon is having a problem converting em-dashes (—) properly, so God’s Assassin will be delayed until they can work this out. Computer programming can be a frustrating activity and I sympathize with their IT staff. I’m confident they will figure it out eventually. In the meantime, their marvelous customer service representative is keeping me in the loop.

While this is going on, I’ve started the next story in the Holy Christian Empire series under the working title of Princess Barbara (not the real title, but I’m keeping that a secret because I’ve had titles stolen from me before — including God’s Assassin, and Children of Destruction was stolen for a game). It’s the story of how Queen Barbara II came to power (the first Queen Barbara was Eric’s wife from Last Train from Earth). The story is set between Last Train from Earth and God’s Assassin, and starts in EY 2405, before the Empire got an official name (that’s another story).

Writing a new story can be a problem. I know how it starts and I kinda know how it will end, but the story between those two events isn’t cooperating. My muse needs to get her caboose in gear.

First Draft of God’s Assassin Finished January 30, 2017

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NewYearBangNo, I can’t believe it either, but I managed to finish the first draft today (Jan. 30) of the next book in the Holy Christian Empire series. What a great way to start the new year (and it will make FTL happy too).

That was the fun part. Now the drudgery begins: Rewrite. I know deep in my heart that the first draft isn’t good enough for you and it’s certainly not good enough for me. I’ve never produced a finished product on the first try, and I know that this one has warts all over it.

However, the rewrite probably won’t take forever (like the first draft did) as long as I can keep my nose to the grindstone. The sexy ladies that keep vying for my attention will just have to wait (you believe that — right?).

I have the cover art ready to go. One of the last pieces produced by the great Duncan Long before his untimely demise last month. I’m going to miss him. He had tons of talent. Not just as an artist, but as a fellow writer of science fiction (and other subjects). I’m sure he’s resting in Paradise with our Lord and Savior (he was, indeed, a Christian).

Faster Than Light Travel May be Possible September 23, 2016

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Click on pic for YouTube presentation

A Nasa scientist in Houston worked with an artist to create the “warp drive” concept The interstellar spacecraft builds on previous designs that theoretically allow distant travel by bending space-time.

It doesn’t violate Einstein’s “rules”. It works by bending space in front of it and behind. The main problem is that when it descellerates at the end of the trip, it would destroy whatever was at the destination as the “warps” (energy) catch up all at once.

It works off of a recently discovered oddity in the “em Drive” which I featured in a previous post.

Wormholes could be the key to beating the Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle May 15, 2016

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Wormholes“Time travel seems much more common in science fiction than it is in reality. We’ve never met anyone from the future, after all. But all of the physics we know indicates that wormholes – another science fiction favourite – could really be used to travel backwards in time.

“Wormholes are like portals between two places in the Universe. If you fell in one side, you’d pop out the other immediately, regardless of how far apart the two sides were. But wormholes are also like portals between two times in the Universe. As Carl Sagan liked to say, you wouldn’t just emerge somewhere else in space, but also somewhen else in time.”

Read the complete article here.

SpaceX says it will fly a spacecraft to Mars as soon as 2018 April 27, 2016

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to land an unmanned spacecraft on Mars as soon as 2018 with the help of NASA, an extra

ordinary collaboration between the public and private sectors in an effort to eventually get humans to the Red Planet.

SpaceX made the announcement on Twitter Wednesday, laying out an ambitious timeline for an incredibly difficult mission that only governments have dared try. Landing a spacecraft or a robot that can then operate successfully on the Martian surface is so difficult that the U.S. is the only country to have done it, and many attempts over the years have failed.

The partnership between SpaceX and NASA, which has the goal of sending humans to Mars in the 2030s, is yet another example of the significant shift in the role NASA is playing in space exploration. While it continues to pursue its own deep space missions, the agency has also spent years, and billions of dollars, helping to support a robust commercial space industry, which it is increasingly partnering with to develop the technologies to explore the cosmos.

See the entire Washington Post article here.

Possible Habitable Planet Discovered July 23, 2015

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The artist’s concept depicts Kepler-186f, the first validated Earth-size planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone—a range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the planet’s surface. The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that Earth-size planets exist in the habitable zones of other stars and signals a significant step closer to finding a world similar to Earth.

The size of Kepler-186f is known to be less than ten percent larger than Earth, but its mass, composition and density are not known. Previous research suggests that a planet the size of Kepler-186f is likely to be rocky.

Kepler-186f orbits its star once every 130 days and receives one-third the energy that Earth does from the sun, placing it near the outer edge of the habitable zone. If you could stand on the surface of Kepler-186f, the brightness of its star at high noon would appear as bright as our sun is about an hour before sunset on Earth.

Image credit: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

Full story on Kepler-186F

New eBook of 4 Short Stories February 19, 2015

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Cover SmashwordsSciFi Four Pack

FTL suggested I publish a book of shorts, so I gathered 4 of my short stories together. The collection is due out March 4th, but you can pre-order the Amazon version now for only 99 cents.

[If you bought The Complete Alpha Dreamer in the past, you’ve read the first 3. The 4th, God’s Agent, inspired my upcoming book, God’s Assassin.]

Four short science fiction stories from Al Philipson:

Heat: All Johnnie had to do was find some old bat named Constance Pickering and punch her ticket. But on Hermes hot, barren surface, not all plans work out the way you intend. Action/adventure on a planet similar to Mercury.

Time Twist: Charlie had a score to settle, but when you travel to the past, you have to be very careful how and when you even the books. A time travel adventure.

My Plan Perfect: Two enterprising aliens kidnap a pair of pacifist humans and get more than they bargained for. Alien contact with a twist.

God’s Agent: Undercover agent, Charlotte, went to Merlin to steal some enemy military plans. It could be her last assignment. A military spy story.

13,000 words
Rated “G”

Scientists Discover a Jewel at the Heart of Quantum Physics June 30, 2014

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QuantumPysicsJewelAll that math physicists and their computers have to grind through may be a thing of the past.

Physicists reported this week the discovery of a jewel-like geometric object that dramatically simplifies calculations of particle interactions and challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental components of reality.

“This is completely new and very much simpler than anything that has been done before,” said Andrew Hodges, a mathematical physicist at Oxford University who has been following the work.

The revelation that particle interactions, the most basic events in nature, may be consequences of geometry significantly advances a decades-long effort to reformulate quantum field theory, the body of laws describing elementary particles and their interactions. Interactions that were previously calculated with mathematical formulas thousands of terms long can now be described by computing the volume of the corresponding jewel-like “amplituhedron,” which yields an equivalent one-term expression.

For the complete article: http://www.wired.com/2013/12/amplituhedron-jewel-quantum-physics/

This type of discovery could lead to all sorts of new “gee-whiz” stuff that can make science fiction stories come true. Those of us in the imagination business need to stay ahead of these things lest we be overtaken by reality.

Finding time to Write April 5, 2014

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For me, finding time to write is a major chore. Good writers block out some time every day. I’m happy if the geek will give me Sunday afternoon after church to write.

Well, I lucked out today (Saturday) and got almost the entire day to write and actually laid down over 2500 words in addition to some nit-picking with the parts I’d already written. Very relaxing.

I’m actually starting to get comfortable with my characters, especially Eric, the “hero” of the yarn. He’s been tough to get to know because there’s very little of me in him. He started out in my eyes as almost mythical. An Adonis with Herculean abilities, but he’s starting to step off Mount Olympus and acquiring some humanity. It’s the start of a journey, but he’s still not where I want him to be. But being a hard-headed character, he may never fall into line. They all develop minds of their own and tell me to get stuffed when I try to “tame” them.

By the way. If you haven’t read Buck’s interview (Children of Destruction), by all means give it a look. He agreed rather reluctantly to the grilling, so we may never get another chance to talk to him outside the book.

Life Experience is Often Hard March 2, 2014

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A couple of weeks ago, I talked about gaining life experience if you want to be a writer. If you just want to be a reader, this can help you understand what goes into the, hopefully, amazing stories that were/are your favorites.

Certainly getting close to people can gain life experience for you, but when you get close to people, you can sometimes be hurt — and hurt badly. And not always because of some betrayal of the other person.

AngelThis was driven home to me, again, a week ago, when my best friend passed away suddenly. He was a truly brilliant man with degrees in physics and aeronautical engineering, and an IQ above 170. And yes, he was a real, life, honest to God “rocket scientist”. We had a standing “date” once a week to sit and talk about whatever popped into our heads. We talked about important things, like family, Jesus, and God; as well as entertaining subjects like physics, space tethers (our last discussion on the evening when his wife and I had to call the ambulance to take him to the hospital), politics, and other trivia. He left to be with Jesus two days later. He doesn’t hurt any more because he has a new body and a glorious life ahead of him, but my heart hurts every time I think of him because I no longer have the pleasure of his delightful company.

That’s what I mean about being hurt.

Life will break your heart many times as you gain “life experience”. You’ll also accumulate joys and triumphs as well. Savor both the good and bad, because the emotions you felt can be valuable grist for your stories. If you can transfer those emotions to the page and to your audience, you’ll be a much better writer and hopefully, your audience, the wonderful people who bless you by taking their precious time to read your scribblings, will enjoy themselves when they read your prose.